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State agriculture cooperatives agree on best environmental practices

By Staff | Oct 13, 2014

ANKENY – Members of the Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance agreed to the Code of Practice for 2014 outlining guidelines for consistent and responsible application of nutrients during a recent meeting.

“The Code of Practice is essential to ensuring consistent use of best practices as we move into fall nutrient application,” said Dave Coppess, executive vice-president of sales and marketing at Heartland Co-op and vice-president of the ACWA. “It is important that we all are on the same page and agree on how and when we will apply nutrients in a way that is best for the environment and the farmer.”

The ACWA Code of Practice is a formal agreement among the retailers stating they will delay fall anhydrous applications without a nitrification inhibitor until soil temperatures are 50 degrees and trending lower.

ACWA members use the county soil temperature and forecast maps compiled by Iowa State University, available at www.extension.agron.iastate.edu/NPKnowledge, as a reference point for soil temperatures.

“Accountability is a key benefit and concern of ACWA,” said Roger Wolf, ACWA executive director. “It is important that all members act responsibility and the Code of Practice is just one way that they hold each other responsible for their actions and demonstrates that the ag supply chain can voluntarily align with the public mission programs such as the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science-based initiative that seeks to reduce nitrate and phosphorous loads in Iowa waterways by 45 percent from point and nonpoint sources.

ACWA encourages farmers in targeted subwatersheds to adopt nutrient management enhancements to maximize nutrient use efficiency and help protect the watershed’s water quality. Nutrient management enhancements include use of nitrogen stabilizers, slow release fertilizers, incorporation or injection, soil nitrate testing and other technologies that minimize loss of nitrogen to surface or ground water sources. Special NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds are available for eligible farmers in these areas.

Other practices to reduce nitrate flow from tile systems include tile line denitrification bioreactors, constructed wetlands, conservation stream buffers and fall cover cropping systems. More information on these targeted watershed initiatives is available at www.acwa-rrws.org/.

“Accurate fertilizer application is always important to farmers and in this time of softening grain prices it is definitely top of mind,” said Coppess. “The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a year old and the agriculture community remains committed to implementing practices to further the strategy and protect water quality.”

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